Why do we report suicides and how can we facilitate suicide prevention efforts? Perspectives of Hong Kong media professionals
Cheng, Q., Fu, K-w., Caine, E., & Yip, P.S.F.
Background: The Hong Kong news media report suicide-related events more frequently and sensationally than Western countries. Little is known about Hong Kong media professionals' experiences and thoughts about such reporting. Aims: To understand Hong Kong media professionals' experiences and perceptions of suicide reporting and whether the news media can be better engaged into suicide prevention. Method: We conducted three focus groups of journalists from both the Cantonese and English language news media. Data were analyzed using grounded theory methods. Results: We discerned three rationales from participants regarding their intense coverage of suicide-related events: (1) satisfying commercial competitiveness, (2) addressing social problems, and (3) responding to readers' interests. The first rationale was a dominant and vigorous motivating factor, and often influenced suicide reporting among local Cantonese media. Media professionals recommended engagement strategies targeted at frontline journalists, media managers, and general media consumers. Conclusion: We see potential to involve news media professionals in Hong Kong as working partners in suicide prevention. To succeed, this effort requires engagement in a proactive, consistent, and sustained fashion.